Making a commitment to a new way of eating is a lot to get your mind around. Today marks Day 1 of my 30 day Food Challenge. And yes, I’m still in the midst of my Summer Push Series as well (completing 3 months of TurboFire workouts) – so this is going to be quite the month!
I’ve gotten a few questions (okay, a lot of questions) both on my blog, facebook and just in “real life” as people learn about what I’m taking on. It’s funny, because you never realize how personal making decisions about what you eat (or don’t eat) can be. I never paid much attention to it before because I wasn’t really in a situation where I tried to avoid specific foods (other than a general attempt to eat healthier foods!). But as I’ve been reading articles, books, blogs, and talking to others who are following a wheat free or Paleo style diet – the variations and levels of dedication are all over the place. Some people do it for major health reasons (like being allergic or sensitive to ingredients) and others do it to try and just be healthier (like me).
I didn’t expect my harshest critic of this new challenge to be my husband. But he is about 99% questions and 1% enthusiastic about these next 30 days. I can appreciate the questions (some of them), but in the end he just wants me to make him a list of things we’re not eating this month. So if he’s confused, perhaps you guys are, too, so I’ll attempt to make sense of this challenge on my blog, answer your questions and provide resources so you can check out the research and opinions for yourself, too.
I’m still learning as I go here – so I’d like to put it out there that what I’m doing the next 30 days isn’t officially Paleo and it’s probably not a perfect match up with Wheat Free, either. It’s sort of a combo of the two..but it’s important to note that Paleo eaters are ALSO wheat/grain free. But being Wheat Free doesn’t really mean you are Paleo. Does that make sense? A few things before I lay out my foundation for the next 30 days: Just because this is what I’m doing doesn’t mean it’s right for you. And just because you DO eat wheat/grains doesn’t mean I’m judging you for eating it. I’m just trying this out for a while to see how I feel without it. Maybe it will change my life, maybe not. My biggest goal is to lose some weight and feel like I have more energy so some of my choices reflect that end goal for me in the following list.
So – here’s the drill down for my 30 Day Food Challenge
1) Avoid wheat as much as possible (I am not going to NOT buy something that says “processed at a facility that may include soy, wheat, etc.) But this means that we aren’t cooking any recipes that include wheat. If you have questions about why – click on the link above for some good information.
2) Avoidance of most grains actually – so trying to avoid corn based products (because corn is actually a grain – not a vegetable!) and things like rice, too. We are putting these items on the “extreme modification” list. As in, it would be better to have eaten a corn tortilla than a flour one, or, it would be better to have an ear of corn at a BBQ instead of potato chips but we should do our best to avoid either situation. If you are interested in learning more about rice and how it fits into (or doesn’t) a Paleo lifestyle, this is a good article to check out.
3) Potatoes also go on the extreme modification list. But sweet potatoes can be used because of our level of working out. Paleo athletes often use sweet potatoes as a good recovery snack/meal. Since the hubs & I are very active, I think it’s good to keep this as an option. Here’s a good article on why I’m choosing to limit our potato consumption.
4) Eat clean food. This means avoiding products that have ingredients that aren’t natural. So – if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t buy it. Ways to make sure you are doing this? Buy fresh veggies and meat – avoid frozen foods or pre-packaged items as much as possible. I will say that there is a decent amount of pre-packaged items out there that don’t have a bunch of trash ingredients in them. But make sure you flip over the box/wrapper or whatever and check out the ingredients list. A good rule of thumb is that if the ingredients list has more than 5 ingredients – it’s probably not all that natural (unless all the ingredients are “whole” types of food).
5) Avoid foods that are marketed as “low fat” “fat free” “low calorie,” etc. Typically these foods have been stripped of any nutritional value and trash ingredients have been added to fill in the blanks. A lot of times in place of fat/calories – you’ll find lots of sugar instead which can be just as bad. The idea here is to eat products that are as natural/unprocessed as possible.
Seriously – don’t eat this.
6) Re-evaluate all Dairy Products: It’s in my nature to opt for the low fat cheeses or fat free sour cream versus the “real stuff.” But again, if we are going for more natural/unprocessed things – you need to buy dairy products in a more natural state. Some good tips for identifying “the good stuff” when it comes to dairy (cheese, yogurts, etc) is here. I even bought some coconut milk creamer for my coffee. Looks at me, I’m all fancy!
I’m sure I’ll be figuring out MORE about all this as I go…but this is the basic list and reasons why for those who have asked (or are secretly wondering WTH I’m doing). Perhaps my husband will read this, too and I’ll kill 2 birds with one stone.
I’d still love to hear more about your ideas for your 30 Day Food Challenge – be creative, this is your time to explore something totally new!